Online Innovation May 27th, 2020
At first, businesses only needed to prepare for a tight two weeks of limited consumer activity. Then, two weeks elongated into a month or two, and now, public health officials doubt whether it will be safe for businesses to reopen in six months. If Canadians must endure even a year of such severe restrictions, it is incredibly likely that the world will be forever changed by this unprecedented event — and we are just beginning to see what changes are likely to occur.
Most businesses have already pivoted their strategies toward the digital environment, where the vast majority of Canadian consumers are confined. However, both business and consumer behaviour on the web is changing — and it could be changing for all time. Here are a few ways digital marketing might be forever marred by the COVID-19 crisis.
Since before COVID-19 emerged as a real threat and before most Canadians were ordered to stay at home, internet use has increased 70 percent. These days, many workers rely on the internet to log into their jobs. Students have online classes, and everyone is leaning heavily on digital communications, like social media, video chat and the like, to be entertained and stay in contact with friends and loved ones. At this point, consumers have been managing to stay at home for over two months, and there could be anywhere from a month to a year of quarantine left.
It is impossible to predict how consumer behaviour will be in a post-COVID world. For now, at least, digital audiences have swollen to immense size. Digital marketers have more people to attract and engage. That means they have more opportunities to accomplish business goals in a major way. The longer quarantine goes on, audiences will become more accustomed to relying heavily on the internet. As a result, digital marketing could move from an important marketing strategy to a dominant one mandatory for any type of business success.
Though businesses are not earning as much income as they might be accustomed to, many still have a budget to spare thanks to reduced operating costs and other coronavirus-related shifts. In most cases, the most sensible place to invest this money is digital marketing. Digital Marketing can help keep businesses engaged and relevant to their audiences during this crisis.
Investing in digital marketing isn’t revolutionary, and for many start-ups and businesses based online, digital marketing isn’t even that remarkable. Yet, what is remarkable is the amount of money pouring into digital marketing efforts. Businesses will likely need to up their digital marketing budget to develop higher-quality content to break through the extra clutter and truly connect with their target audience.
Additionally, what is quite interesting is the number of businesses that have previously eschewed digital marketing in favour of more traditional methods. In desperate attempts to connect with their customer base and share accurate information about the pandemic impacts, many brick-and-mortar businesses have sought partnerships with digital marketing agencies to develop more dynamic websites and social media pages and more. This trend pushing new businesses into digital marketing could, again, make digital marketing absolutely imperative in the post-COVID market.
As mentioned above, incomes for businesses remain relatively low almost across the board for a variety of reasons. Yet, even as businesses desperately want their online audiences to convert, few businesses are focusing on increasing conversions as a primary digital marketing goal. This is largely due to the state of consumers amid the COVID-19 crisis; people are scared for their health and their financial security. Pushing them to make somewhat frivolous purchases is a near-certain way to alienate customers left and right. Instead, businesses are exercising empathy, developing digital marketing content that helps audiences feel seen and understood and that their needs are met.
Other goals are taking precedence over driving conversions. It could be that these more noble goals continue to dominate even after consumers regain confidence in the market, and the economy recovers. Consumers certainly prefer content that isn’t overly sales-oriented. As they become accustomed to seeing messages other than “buy now” or “call today,” they could demand such content in the future.
It isn’t just the next few weeks that are up in the air; for businesses, the next few years could bring upheaval, especially in terms of how they market to consumers. By evaluating the changes that are currently ongoing, businesses can make smart marketing decisions that set them up for success in the uncertain months to come.